In yet another violation of Juvenile Justice Act, a young boy has been slapped with Public Safety Act (PSA) for allegedly organising anti-state demonstrations in 2016 when he was a minor.
Hailing from Rampora Qaimoh Kulgam, Khalid Nazir Wagay has been serving detention for past more than a year on the charges of unlawful activities. The boy is presently detained in Central Jail, Kote-Balwal Jammu since October 2018. He has now been booked under PSA for a case of 2016, when he was barely 17 years old. Khalid was born on August 28, 1999, as per his school certificates and aadhar card, copies of which lie with this reporter.
“Even though he is major now, he has been booked under a case of 2016 when he was a minor, which is illegal, for a minor cannot be detained under PSA,” stressed Advocate Mir Shafkat Hussain, who is pleading his case at Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
To mention, detention of minors under PSA is a sheer violation of an amendment to the Act, which prohibits the detention of persons below the age of 18 years in police custody or interrogation centre. The amendment was made in April 2012 following strong criticism from local, national and international human rights organisations, for PSA allows the police to arrest any suspect and keep them in jail for two years without trial.
“Like in other cases, in this case too PSA has been misused by the police. They have been placing him in illegal detention,” said Advocate Hussain, adding that the District Magistrate Kulgam has signed his detention orders at the behest of police “without applying his own mind.”
A student of Bandipora Polytechnic College, who had visited his home during vacations in December 2017, was detained by local police along with some other boys after an untoward incident took place in his village.
“He has never been involved in any unlawful activity and has always been focused on his studies. It is just that false charges have been levelled against him,” said Nazir Ahmad Wagay, Khalid’s father and a government school teacher. “My son should be released soon and his PSA must be quashed. He is innocent,” he pleaded.
Khalid’s family has been suffering like anything for past one year. “His mother is not able to control her tears since his detention, while his grandmother’s health has deteriorated due to this distress,” said Nazir Ahmad.
As per his family and lawyers, even as he was repeatedly granted bail by the court of law, he was never released by police but was instead shifted from one police station to another till PSA charges were brought against him.
As per the petition filed in J&K High Court, Khalid was arrested on December 28, 2017 and was detained in police station Qazigund where he was implicated in a case under FIR 313/2017. Even after he was granted bail by the High Court on July 20, 2018, he was not released by police and was instead shifted to police station Kulgam under FIR vide 183/2016. The detenue again applied for the bail and was granted the same on September 1, 2018. But instead he was detained in Kulgam police station under FIR 191/2016.
Later, his family once again applied for the bail, which he was granted. However, once again he was not released from police custody but was instead shifted to police station Qazigund under FIR 314/2017.
Among the charges mentioned on the District Magistrate Kulgam’s order that have been made grounds for the PSA against Khalid include organising an anti-state procession at Qaimoh on August 10, 2016 and unfurling Pakistani flags on August 21, 2016, when Khalid was a juvenile and a 10th standard student. “The perusal of the said dossier also reveals your involvement in case FIR No. 191/2016 U/S 13 ULA (P) Act P/S Kulgam, which reveals that you have been found involved in provoking the mob led by you and your associates to continue the processions till the state of Jammu and Kashmir is seceded from Union of India and they also unfurled Pakistani flags on 21/08/2016 at Turk-Tachloo Qaimoh,” the order reads.
The journalist is a media fellow with National Foundation for India (NFI) and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org